Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Soil of Our Hearts

As you read this ...
look for the type of ground that is currently in your heart. Are we standing solid in the Word ... or has it been sown on poor ground?

by Andrew Wommack

Read Luke 8:4-15
Luke 8:11, "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God."

This parable illustrates the importance of the Word of God. God's Word contains total power, but it has to be planted in our hearts and allowed to germinate before it releases that power.

The seed is God's Word, and the types of ground are the four major categories of men's hearts. The Word was the same in each situation, but there were different results in each case because of the condition of men's hearts - not because of the Word. The Word doesn't work for everyone because not everyone will allow the Word to work. The variable in this parable is the condition of these hearts. God's Word is always the same. It has the same potential in every heart.

Good ground doesn't just happen; it must be cultivated. This is the reason why only one out of four persons in Jesus' parable brought forth fruit. It takes a lot of time, effort, and diligence to be a fruitful Christian. The Christian life is not like a hundred-yard dash but rather a 26.2 mile marathon. It's quicker and easier to raise weeds than it is to raise tomatoes or corn.

In this whole parable, it was the Word that produced the fruit. The ground simply gave it a place to grow. If we will simply put God's Word in our hearts, protect it, and give it priority in our lives, the Word will produce fruit of itself. Satan has deceived many people into thinking that they don't have the talents or abilities to be fruitful Christians, but they are not the ones who bring forth fruit; it's God's Word. When we protect the Word sown in our hearts, it will do the rest.

Luke 8:12, "Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved."

The first type of person Jesus describes is someone who doesn't understand God's Word (Mt. 13:19). Before God's Word can penetrate your heart, you have to understand (not comprehend) what it's saying. If the Word isn't understood, then it will be like seed scattered on top of hard-packed ground (the wayside). The birds will eat the seed and there will be no fruit.

Mark 4:15 and Luke 8:12, make it clear that these birds represent Satan, and Mark says the devil comes immediately to steal away the Word. Satan did not have direct access to the Word in any of the other heart-types which Jesus described. Satan cannot steal the Word from us if we will hide it in our hearts (Ps. 119:11). This first type of person simply heard the Word but didn't receive it. He never applied it to his life, so he lost it.

Notice that Luke links belief and salvation with the Word being sown in our hearts in the same way as Romans 10:14-17. If there is no Word, there cannot be any belief or salvation (I Pet. 1:23). We must preach the Word - not just morality or social issues.

Luke's use of the word "saved" could include, but is not necessarily limited to, forgiveness of sins. Salvation includes much more than forgiveness of sins. This verse could describe a person who didn't receive the Word and, therefore, was eternally damned. It could also be describing a Christian who simply doesn't receive the Word in a certain area of his life and therefore doesn't experience the victory that Jesus provided for him. Are you experiencing His victory in your life?

Read Mark 4:13-20
Mark 4:16, "And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness"

The second type of person Jesus describes is one who does receive the Word, even with great joy, but his commitment to the Word is shallow. Just as a plant must establish a strong root system to sustain its growth, so we must become rooted and grounded in God's Word. Too much attention on visible growth will cause us to become impatient and not take the time to become firmly established in the truths of God's Word. This will always result in fruitlessness.

A seed planted in shallow earth will germinate and grow faster than a seed planted in deep soil. The seed in deep soil will put all of its energy towards the roots first while the seed in shallow soil has no choice but to put its effort into the growth of the plant above the ground. The plant in shallow soil will look like it is far ahead of the other seed for a while, but that will not last. It soon withers and dies, while the seed with roots grows and brings forth fruit.

Notice that afflictions, persecutions, and tribulations are instruments of the devil and are used to stop God's Word from bearing fruit in our lives. They are not good things that God brings our way to improve us. They are instruments of Satan.

These things are designed to take our attention off of God's Word, thereby stopping the Word from taking root in us. It's like the runner who spends all of his time in the grandstands arguing with the hecklers over the way he's running the race. He may win an argument, but he will lose the race. We must not let anything distract us from meditating on God's Word day and night, for only then will we make our way prosperous and have good success (Josh. 1:8).

By consistently putting God's Word in first place in every area of your life, you will let that Word become so rooted in you that nothing can get it out.

Luke 8:14, "And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."

This third type of ground is characteristic of a large part of the Body of Christ today. These are people who have received God's Word, committed themselves to it to the degree that they are able to remain faithful in persecution, but because of being occupied with the affairs of this life, the Word sown in their heart is choked and no fruit is produced. Just as weeds in a garden will steal all of the nutrients and starve the plant, so the pleasures of this life, if we allow them to dominate our thinking, will stop the fruit that the Word would have produced.

Throughout history, the Church has always grown in size and strength during persecution. This is because during persecution we get our priorities straight. We realize our life is in Jesus (Jn. 14:6) and not in things (Lk. 12:15), and we focus all of our attention on the Lord. However, prosperity has been far more damaging to the Body of Christ for the exact reason stated here in this verse.

God wants to bless His children with things (Ps. 35:27; Mt. 6:33), but a preoccupation with these things will choke God's Word and make it unfruitful. If we would follow God's formula for prosperity found in Matthew 6:19-34, we would have the Word bringing forth fruit and we'd enjoy the physical blessings of this life, too.

Notice Jesus said that no fruit was brought to perfection. This type of person will exhibit some fruit, but it will always be small and far short of what it should be. Do you feel frustrated because you are just getting by and are not really experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came to give? (Jn. 10:10) Examine your lifestyle and see if the cares of this life, deceitfulness of riches, or pleasures of this life could be choking God's Word.

Luke 8:15, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."

As has already been noted, good ground doesn’t just happen; it has to be cultivated. This is the reason only one out of four people in Jesus’ parable brought forth fruit. It takes a lot of effort and diligence to be a fruitful Christian. As also stated in this verse, it takes a lot of patience. The Christian life is not like a hundred yard dash but rather a twenty-six mile marathon. It takes time to become a fruitful Christian. It’s quicker and easier to raise weeds than it is to raise tomatoes or corn.

In this whole parable, it was the Word that produced fruit. The ground just gave it a place to grow. If we will simply put God’s Word in our hearts, protect it, and give it priority in our lives, the Word will produce fruit of itself. Satan has deceived many of us into thinking that we don’t have the talents or abilities to be fruitful Christians, but we are not the ones who bring forth fruit; it’s God’s Word. When we protect the Word sown in our hearts, it will do the rest.

Visit Andrew's Website.



Native Shrubs for Small Wildlife Gardens

By Karyl Seppala 

For those with small wildlife gardens, gardening with native plants has always been a challenge. Natives tend to be not just large size but absolutely huge.

Fortunately the nursery industry is responding to the growing demand for wildlife friendly native plants for the small space garden. Plant breeders have come out with some outstanding dwarf and compact shrubs that allow a larger range of people to create a native garden and still conserve space and resources.

There are a variety of shrubs available which make attractive foundation plantings that are also eco-friendly.  Read this article.


What Traveling Brings to Our Lives

From Luminosity.com

How often do you go traveling? Probably not as often as you would like to. We can comfort ourselves with the fact that we devote more time to work and can do more useful things instead of resting. But is an ongoing working process really the most effective way to succeed in your career or business? Luminosity has collected key observations of how traveling affects our work.

Travelers that spend away from home all their vacations and free time, say that some of the most important ideas come to them while traveling. Why does this happen? Read the entire article.


Copyright and Reprint Information All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins, but may be used with proper credit and link back to the website, TheNature InUs.com. Articles written by Donna L. Watkins can be reprinted with proper credit and link back to the website, TheNatureInUs.com.

Common Pet Dangers

by Dr. Jane Bicks

Keeping your companion animal out of harm’s way isn’t always easy or obvious for that matter. There may be dangers lurking in your home right now. But there’s no need to worry because our good doctor is here to help.

In this post, Dr. Jane reveals a list of common pet perils and provides some steps you can take if you think your pet has been poisoned. Protect your pet kids and read the latest Dr. Jane post now





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Begin Your Wildlife Habitat This Fall

You can make your backyards a haven for birds, bats, butterflies and more with some easy ideas. Do one or do them all over time ... it's a beautiful thing to build a wildlife habitat. We find we no longer need any other entertainment. It's much more satisfying "chaising it" on the screened porch (lying back in the chaise and watching the show) or taking a stroll in the garden to find amazing things. What a lovely way to de-stress after a hard day's work and it's at the time when wildlife is active storing up for a good night's sleep. 

If you live in an apartment with a balcony or on acreage in the country, everyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife. You won't find yourself in front of the TV much. We canceled our reception service and no longer care about television. Here's a few ideas from Birds and Blooms list with my added comments. You can find detailed information on building a Backyard Wildlife Habitat and for $15 even get it certified with National Wildlife Federation where you can order a sign to place in your yard. It's a great hobby and certainly a great way to begin or end each day.

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Two Female Goldfinches Eating Seeds
 View More Goldfinch Photos
1. Start With Plants - look for native plants that will do double duty by provides seeds or nuts, nectar and will do double duty if you plant them densely. The more densely you plant them the more protection you'll be providing. And don't be too neat and tidy with your garden. Leaves those seeded plants alone so the birds have time to eat the seeds. It's a delight to see the American Goldfinches eating seeds in our garden.
2. Give Extra Attention to Shrubs - If you've got a lawn with bushes spaced apart it doesn't provide much shelter for wildlife, but you can connect the shrubs to patches of wildflowers or more food-producing shrubs. This provides a living fence that can be used as a hiding place.

3. Leave The Dead Trees - Dead and dying trees called snags are very important, so if they're not a threat to the house, leave them alone. As they decay they lose branches and cavities form. Add to that the holes woodpeckers excavate and you could have all sorts of animals taking up residence. You also attract bug eating birds which means your other trees are more likely to avoid infestations.

If you have neighbors who cut a tree down, ask if you can saw some "sitting stools" out of the trunk. Place them around your yard where you'd want to have a view for watching wildlife. As they rot, the lizards love to use the for escape caves while they peer back out at me as if they're saying, "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

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Young Eastern Fence Lizard
View More Lizard Photos
4. Make A Brush Pile - Build them by lining up a series of parallel logs, and then layering smaller branches on top. This gives you a domelike structure filled with space that wildlife such as foxes or a mourning cloak butterfly will take advantage of. We've had rabbits and turtles in ours and birds nesting in them in Spring.

5. Pile Up The Rocks - Do the same thing with rocks stacking smaller stone on and around bigger ones to create mini-caves and crevices. Our lizards and skinks here love these!

6. Put Up A Roosting Box - You can buy or build these. A roosting box differs from a birdhouse in that the hole is at the bottom so the heat can rise and remain in the box. Along the sides you can use dowel rods for sleeping perches. You'll find that tree frogs even like these. You can also provide a place for winter rest in your birdhouses by cleaning them out in the Fall, spraying them with some essential oil blend to kill any lice or whatever, and then place some pine straw or crushed leaves in to keep them warm.

7. Support The Bat Population - Bats will help you control pests and do a lot of work for you. These little flying mammals are a delight to have around at sunset when they come out and begin their busy night of bug-eating. Study to find out what kind of bats inhabit your area. We built a bat house only to find that the Little Brown Bat is what we have in our area and they like to roost in trees. Being that our home is on a wooded acre, they didn't need supplemental housing.


Copyright and Reprint Information - All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins, but may be used with proper credit and link back to the website, TheNature InUs.com. Articles written by Donna L. Watkins can be reprinted with proper credit and link back to the website, TheNatureInUs.com.

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 10/15/14

  The Nature In Us Newsletter - 10/15/14 
  by Donna L. Watkins  


"When your memories are greater than your dreams,
you are already beginning to die."  Kris Vallotton



Hello Dear Friends!

Sometimes we seem to know everything there is to know about a subject in the Bible (healing, provision, peace, forgiveness) and yet it's only facts we've logged away.  But we think that it's simply "not working."  If it's not been implanted in our hearts, we can't operate from those beliefs.  When we accept Jesus as Lord His spirit is downloaded into our spirit and we have access to everything that Jesus has promised ... BUT! our soul (mind, will and emotions) still have their own agenda/memories. They have to be "renewed" to line up with the spirit.  Romans 10:9-10 mentions the heart in relationship to belief:

View More Photos of Greenville, SC
Donna - Rock Quarry Gardens
Greenville, SC
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession (to profess, to praise, celebrate) is made unto salvation."

This implies there's more to getting saved than just speaking words or facts that we know in our heads.  Some people of the "faith movement" think that simply repeating the Word over and over will make it happen.  It's our belief of those words that make things happen, not simply chanting the words.  Saying it's so, when it isn't so, doesn't make it so.  We have to believe in our hearts.  We have to meditate on the Word and build that connection between God and ourselves so we can get what we "know" into our actual "knower" (heart) that rules our lives.

Remember the father with the epileptic-type son that the disciples couldn't heal? Mark 9:22-24 tells us that "oftentimes it hath cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him; but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said unto him, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.' And straightway the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!'” 

Notice Jesus didn't take responsibility for the healing. Instead He told the father that all things are possible to those who believe.  The father obviously mentally believed there was healing available or he wouldn't have traveled to see Jesus.

If we've suffered with health, relationship or finance issues for many years, it makes it harder to believe.  When we hear the Truth that will set us free, it takes time to renew our minds from what we've been taught.  After all most churches believe God can heal, but He chooses not to do so for some noble reason that should satisfy our thirsty souls to be able to live that life of abundance that Jesus came to give us.  Read more on this topic in my recent article:  The Battle of Belief and Unbelief

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The Good News - Squirrel With Case of Warbles
View More Squirrel Photos
On September 19, I took some photos of a squirrel that looked horribly diseased.  I haven't seen it for over a week, so I finally got up the courage to email The Wildlife Center for what I thought would be bad news.  Was I super relieved to find out that it was not cancer.  It was a case of warbles which are a type of bot fly.  They make the squirrel very uncomfortable and they kinda go crazy rolling on the ground or jumping in the air.  There is no threat to humans or pets from the larvae itself or the affected animals.  Most of the time squirrels that have warbles recover fairly quickly in a matter of days after they've departed.

I looked up some info and am passing it along in case you ever see something like this.  Apparently in summer when the fly is laying its eggs, the squirrel comes into contact with them.  Then when it grooms itself, the body heat and moisture causes the eggs to hatch and the larvae then penetrate the squirrel and migrate to a comfortable spot just below the skin where they cut a breathing hole and continue their development.

Once the larvae emerges in the Fall they drop to the ground to pupate until next summer.  The squirrel generally recovers without further incident.  In gray squirrels, the larvae are most abundant in the late summer and early fall.  In the Southeast United States [we're in Virginia], gray squirrels and other rodents, and rabbits, are commonly affected by Bot fly warbles.  Horses and cattle can be affected by them also. 

Speaking of squirrels and rolling around ... I took a short video of a squirrel having a grand old time in the backyard.  After knocking over one of our geese (not real), he was crazy about this one spot in the dirt and was really having a grand old time ... and then suddenly he stops as if he knows somebody is photographing him.  View Crazy Squirrel Video.

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Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker at Feeder
View More Red-headed Woodpecker Photos
View All Woodpecker Photos
We have some noisy Red-headed Woodpeckers in our backwoods and at our feeders.  It's the recent batch of fledglings.  They sure do love to chatter.  I guess they're excited about being out and about the world.  They've learned so much so quickly, each day being full of new adventures and life-survival skills.  Do you suppose they are like some teenagers?  Feeling like we know it all and are ready to head into life confident and free.  No more need for parental guidance and advice.  Do I sound a bit too familiar with this type of teenager?  Hmmm ....

Did you know that unlike other woodpeckers, they are good at catching insects in the air and hunt for them on the ground also.  They eat a lot of acorns and beech nuts of which they also cache away some for winter in tree crevices.  They also eat quite a lot of fruit and seeds.  They certainly love our black-oil sunflower seeds as you can tell from the photo.  Sadly, the species has declined sharply in the past 50 years because of habitat loss. 

Migration patterns are shifting for some birds and the Rufous Hummingbird is one of them.  Nesting in the Northwest, from Wyoming to southern Alaska, Rufous Hummingbirds have traditionally spent the winter in Mexico.  A few had always wandered east in Fall, but recent decades, they wouldn't have survived the winter there.  Now, gardeners all over the Gulf Coast and beyond have established Winter havens for hummingbirds, with flowers that bloom through the season and plenty of sugar-water feeders.

From east Texas to Florida and north at least to the Carolinas, hundreds of Rufous Hummingbirds now spend the entire Winter and some individuals may come back to the same gardens year after year.  Barn swallows were always known for flying to South America for Winter but always nesting in North America.  Now they are nesting down in South America also.  [Source:  Birds and Blooms Oct/Nov 2014]

View Enlarged Photo
Juvenile Cardinal
View More Cardinal Photos
We've had some late Cardinal fledglings squealing around the property.  They sound like a squeaky wheel and go on and on all day long, increasing the volume when mom or pop fly into the bush they're hidden in with some food.

Since we had such a long Winter that had us using heat in June, many of the birds nested late here in Central Virginia this year ... and there were some who stayed on schedule but had a risky success rate.  I know the pair of wrens that were on the front porch had two babies that died.  I assume it was from the cold since they looked like normal babies and were snuggled together. 

I found a Bird Song Quiz online at Birds and Blooms YouTube site.  Couldn't resist taking it since it was only 2 minutes long.  I answered correctly on 3 of the 5 birds of the quiz.  Three of the birds have not been seen here.  While you're there here's a 1/2 minute video of a Titmouse on an Opossum's back pecking at something. 

Don't forget to clean out those birdhouses.  The birds can use them in winter as a warm place to stay ...especially if you put in some clean straw, hay or pine straw.  We use essential oils to disinfect them from any lice, etc.  If you have 100% pure essential oils almost any one of them would do the job since they are so hugely anti-microbial.  We sometimes get a special treat when we clean the birdhouses ... that of seeing a flying squirrel taking his daytime sleep since they are night animals.  Those big black eyes are so very cool!

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Flying Squirrel in Birdhouse
View More Flying Squirrel Photos
Flying squirrels make their nests in tree cavities and rely on acorns and nuts as their main food sources (thank goodness we have tons of acorns this year - last year was none here in the Eastern area of the U.S.). When acorns and other foods are plentiful, flying squirrels will cache them in locations throughout their home range for later eating in the winter. The down side .... occasionally, flying squirrels will prey upon insects, bird eggs and carrion.

Be sure to check out the post, Begin Your Wildlife Habitat This Fall.  You can make your backyard a haven for birds, bats, butterflies and more with some easy ideas.  Do one or do them all over time ... it's a beautiful thing to build a wildlife habitat.  We find we no longer need any other entertainment.  It's much more satisfying "chaising it" on the screened porch (lying back in the chaise and watching the show) or taking a stroll in the garden to find amazing things.  What a great way to de-stress after work or school.

Dr. Jauhar, author of the book, Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician, was recently described as "a compelling writer and an astute critic of the wasteful, mercenary, cronyistic and often corrupt practice of medicine today."

Look Inside the Book
The New York Times book reviewer notes say, "He is brutally honest, not just about his own shortcomings, but about those of colleagues, bosses and institutions. There is the cardiologist who pressures him to perform expensive, unneeded diagnostic tests; the hospital, which wants him to see patients for ever-shorter sessions; the pharmaceutical company that pays him on the side to give 'lectures' but will let him use only its slides and data."

Indeed, such complaints have been well documented before. Too much cancer screening, too many heart tests, too many cesarean sections—mounting evidence suggests that Americans are basically being over-treated to death. 

There are many reasons for this, including the fact that doctors' hands are tied by insurance companies when it comes to treatment decisions. Maybe the root of the problem goes back to the fact that doctors enter the field wanting to truly help people get well, but find that the system works against disease resolution at every turn.

Most all fail to appreciate the massive collusion between multinational corporations, peer reviewed journals, professional advisory committees, and federal regulatory agencies that decimate any hope of objective honest recommendations. Medicine has become a for-profit business, and this automatically promotes waste and less-than-optimal treatment options.


Donna
Shenandoah Caverns
Quicksburg, VA
Enjoy the outdoors while you still can ... it's a glorious time to glorify the Lord in a forest, on an empty beach, from a mountain top, or in your backyard.  He loves to talk with you in those still moments and He delights in having time with you!

Love, Hugs, and Many Blessings,

Donna



P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?

Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter:  
http://www.thenatureinus.com/2014/10/the-nature-in-us-newsletter-101514.html

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Living Near Trees Reduces Stress

Composting Cardboard

Baffling Behaviors of Pets

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© All photos unless otherwise noted are the property of Donna L. Watkins and cannot be displayed without approval. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flint River Ranch's 22nd Anniversary

Remember the song - "I was country before country was cool"? 

Along the same line, Flint River Ranch Pet Foods was green before green was cool.
As they celebrated this Columbus Day; which marked our 22nd year of business as Flint River Ranch, it is nice to reflect upon how they "got it right" from the very beginning!

From the very first day of production, strict attention has been paid to the selection of meat proteins and other ingredients used in their formulas. They decided from the beginning to only use US-sourced ingredients whenever possible, and have never purchased from Chinese manufactures.

Source certification and dedicated in-house testing made sure that selected ingredients were free from chemicals, pesticides and toxic molds. Samples from each production run are maintained for six months for regulatory inspection.

Just as important, gas fumes from the ovens are filtered and cleaned before releasing into the atmosphere. All paper products, cartons and other waste from manufacturing are fully recycled.

Not only was this important for Flint River Ranch, but hope it helps with customer assurance that our products are manufactured in California; one of the states with strong environmental requirements. We, as distributors of this natural pet food, take pride that this dedication to their quality and production continues, and will into the future.

Thank you to our extended Flint River Ranch family of customers! We are so pleased you continue to put your trust and loyalty with Flint River Ranch at HealthyPetCorner.com.


Healthy Pet Corner Flint River Ranch Pet Foods

Free Shipping - Excellent Quality
Kibble - Pet Treats and Bones
No Recalls Ever
No Ingredients From China Ever